How to create the best intelligent item in D&D

Intelligent Items

Creating an intelligent item in D&D is easy according to the dungeon master’s guide. You just make an intelligent weapon that has a personality, quirk, and a way to interact with the world. The only problem is that newer dungeon masters have no idea how to make a good intelligent item.

That is why I am here to help you create the best intelligent item that you possibly can!

What you need to create an intelligent item in D&D is personality, purpose, and abilities that make the item worthwhile for your players!

Personality

The first thing that you will need in an intelligent item is personality. This is pretty straightforward since you have created NPCs before. There are some differences between NPCs and intelligent items. The most important differences are:

-The item cannot interact fully with the world.

-It item is a parasite.

The item must join with another being to be used.

Intelligent items have a clear purpose.

How would you be affected if these four things applied to you? You know that you cannot interact with the world unless someone else uses you and you are worthless without another being. Would you be angry, comical, envious? How would this shape your personality and view of the world?

The item’s intelligence shapes how it perceives the world. Not many beings would be happy with this kind of existence. Find out what makes your intelligent item in D&D tick, and why they are okay with this.

Purpose

No sentient creature will spend time and hard-earned resources for nothing. This item was created with a purpose and it should embody that purpose. Was this item created to defeat evil? If so, then it should fight any evil creature effectively. What if a creature is not evil by alignment but is acting in a way that can be perceived as evil?

A great example is a baby orc. Would a sentient sword of justice allow the wielder to kill the baby with the sword’s blade? It might, but that depends on the sword.

Once you understand the purpose of the weapon and how far it is willing to go in order to accomplish its purpose, we have to consider intelligent items desires.

Desires and choice

The example of a baby orc is a classic for moral dilemmas for sparking a discussion on the alignment system, but how can this example help you? Asking tough questions like this can help flesh out what a character would do and what a character is like. If your sword of justice kills the baby orc then it will kill anything that it perceives as evil no matter what. If the sword does not want to kill the baby orc then it has a different and more malleable version of justice.

The desires of each intelligent item in D&D is based off of their purpose. Normally people have a harder time defining their own desires since we are creatures of mixed emotions, but intelligent items do not have these problems.

Make your items have a desire and it greatly affects their personality.

Abilities

An intelligent item in D&D will always have some cool abilities. It is a sentient sword, why should it be just a normal magic item? The answer is that it should not and you should give the item some fantastic ability.

We need to decide what abilities the item should have. This is fairly easy to figure out. First, ask these questions:

What is its purpose?

What type of item is it?

Why was it made?

What is it’s personality?

Why would people want to start using it?

If you answer these questions you will have a ton of abilities and ideas about what to do with your intelligent items. Make it something fantastic since only one talking sword named Edwardo exists.

If you want to make a cursed intelligent item in D&D, give it a personality with these guidelines on cursed items. A sword that actively wants to devour it’s user’s soul is cursed, so make it an interesting cursed item that isn’t just thrown away. You worked too hard for your players to just discard this awesome item!

Evolving weapons?

The concept of a weapon gaining more power as a character levels up is rooted in other media, but why don’t we use it in Dungeons and dragons? Normally we just give players items and they discard that +1 sword when they find a +2 weapon. This is lame, and our intelligent item in D&D is special. So why not make them evolve with the player?

Evolving items have the benefit of not being thrown away. Your hard work in creating this item can persist, and the players will constantly be looking forward to what new discovery they can make about this item. It is an awesome game mechanic and possibly a great plot hook, but how can you make an evolving item?

The answer to this is surprisingly easy. Remember that +1 sword being discarded for a +2 sword? Make the item evolve into a +2 item. You can make a whole extra roleplay about how the item must synchronize with the user in order to get stronger. This give the player a special bond, friend, and something to work towards.

Its…..not……WORKING!!!!!

What would happen if a lawful/good paladin picked up a chaotic evil blade? The blade would most likely try to kill the paladin and the paladin couldn’t use the blade. If the paladin kept the blade and tried to use it in combat because it has some great abilities, the blade could choose not to work. There are many ways to go about this, but here are a few ideas:

The blade gets stuck in the holster.

The special abilities do not work.

The blade fights the paladin for mental control.

The blade just happens to slip from the paladin’s grasp if wielded.

These are some basic ideas, but they are also applicable to any item. If an evil person wears a suit of lawful/good platemail that plate armor could get stuck, not work, jab into the user, a whole host of things.

Make sure the intelligent item in D&D has a personality and will not abide being used by someone who is ‘unworthy’ of them.

Have fun

Intelligent items are extremely fun to design, and you should try to have fun with them. If an item is too powerful, just make it so that the item is annoying to use. If the item seems boring spice it up with an interesting backstory.

Intelligent items are meant to make the game more interesting and add another layer of fun to Dungeons and Dragons. Make sure that your intelligent item in D&D is fun to use and interact with.

Conclusion

This is a short article about magical items, but the 5th edition dungeon master’s guide doesn’t really have much on them. An intelligent item in D&D is not hard to design but are a little bit hard if you have never made one before.

This has been Wizo and keep rolling!

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